With the season of road trips and beach blankets upon us, so comes the need for great new playlists. And boy, do I have a little treasure for your mp3 player (or cd player, walkman… whatever it takes). A good friend of mine (thanks PT!), citing my love for Cold War Kids, clued me into Okkervil River‘s new album about a month ago, and I’m hooked!
image courtesty of filtermagazine.com
Released May 10th, the sixth album from Austin, Texas born Okkervil River, I Am Very Far has become an instant favorite on my iPod. Critically acclaimed for their literary merit as well as just great indie rock, their song lyrics read like poetry set to music. So much so, that their record label has released a hard bound book of the album’s lyrics, aptly titled I Am Very Far: The Lyrics, calling the publication “a complete work in its own right.”
Take a listen.
It’s a little difficult to keep track of the line-up, what with the constant guest appearances and as many as thirteen additional musicians along for the ride in the recording booth, the official crew includes Grammy winning songwriter Will Sheff on vocals and guitar, Lauren Gurgiolo on electric guitar and mandolin, Justin Sherburn on vocals, keyboards, and guitar, Cully Symington on drums, and Patrick Pestorius on bass and vocals.

In addition to traditional musical accompaniment, I Am Very Far also features some sounds as unconventional as filing cabinets being thrown across the room, unreeled rolls of duct tape, and a fast-forwarding and rewinding boombox (Jagjaguwar). The Guardian sums it up, writing, “it could be a mess, but it isn’t, largely because the songwriting is uniformly great.” Praised by the New York Times for “writing like a novelist”, Will Sheff is clearly an all star when it comes to songwriting, producing, and whatever else it takes to create such incredible music.
Photos courtesy of Jagjaguwar

 It should come as no surprise that the name of the band itself is a literary reference, taken from a short story by Russian author Tatyana Tolstaya. Though, with all this talk of scholarly songwriting and bookish allusions, there’s no need to feel guilty for simply enjoying it for how great it makes your ears feel.

Check out their website to listen to more of the album, including “The Valley”, another of my personal favorites. While you’re there, check the tour dates, because they hit the road May 31st to promote the album, so they may be coming to a city near you! Soon!
Any Okkervil River fans out there? How does this album compare to the others?